Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and a Boeing-Northrop Grumman team have received US Army preliminary design and risk reduction (PDRR) contracts for the Common Missile anti-armour weapon.

Lockheed Martin received $4.7 million, Raytheon $4.4 million and Boeing-Northrop Grumman was awarded $4.2 million. A fourth award was not allocated. BAE Systems, which had been considering participation, decided not to submit a bid.

The Common Missile will replace the Raytheon BGM-71 TOW and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire anti-armour missiles from around 2010. The fire-and-forget weapon will be fired from attack helicopters as well as surface platforms. The missile will be equipped with a chemical energy warhead and will complement the planned Compact Kinetic Energy Missile, which will be a hypersonic weapon, also for use from helicopters or vehicles.

As many as 73,000 Common Missiles would be produced for the US Army. The US Navy, US Marine Corps and the UK Ministry of Defence could buy 27,000 more units between them.

The US Army plans a further competition, issuing a request for proposals in fiscal year 2003 for a 48-month Common Missile system definition and development phase involving two competing contractors. Alternatively, the army may pick one design for development, with the two manufacturers competing for multi-year production contracts. Low-rate initial production would begin in FY08, with initial fielding two years later.

The three bidders will design, develop and demonstrate critical Common Missile technologies. The data will be used to finalise design and performance specifications for the weapon.

The UK, which last year signed a statement of intent to join the Common Missile development programme, is due to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) "within the next several months", according to US Army officials.

The UK will contribute about $8.5 million towards the 27- to 30-month PDRR, while its involvement in SDD development will be negotiated as an annex to the MoU. As part of the deal, the UK will gain access to technical data, a price break on production missiles and a share of third-party sales.

Source: Flight International